It’s a big, dusty, hot, crazy town. But we have an ace in the hole- the lovely Jenny, girlfriend of Ahna’s cousin Evan. We meet her two nights running, and eat great Goan and Tibetan food. She’s charming and smart and we hope she gets her visa soon so she can visit us!
While our evenings were spent gossiping with Jenny and listening to Nirvana cover bands, we’re here on a mission: we need to get yellow fever vaccines.
They’re very expensive in the states (hundreds of dollars!) and we figured we’d get them in Delhi.
A little research and we have the numbers of a couple of clinics that administer said vaccine.
I call to make appointments for us.
Can we come in tomorrow for vaccinations?
Umm, why not?
Okay. I call the next clinic. It’s deja vu all over again.
We are getting frustrated, and time is of the essence, because you need 10 days for the vaccine to be effective. We are leaving for Africa very soon.
Mr. Gurpreet Singh, manager of our fabulous B and B, offers to solve the problem for us.
He sends us out with the driver to All India Medical.
It’s a public hospital. Imagine your basic University Hospital, but in India. People everywhere: on gurneys in the hall, on the sidewalk. It’s also the epicenter of a noisy, large, protest against police inaction in some recent, upsetting cases of violence against women and children. We’re trying to stay in our happy places while we get out of the car.
The driver leads us through the crowds and sends us into the ER. But its the pediatric ER. A sadder place has never been seen. The doc sends us away. telling the driver we can’t get the vaccine at All India. Grrr.
More research at the hotel, and we are sent to the prosperous suburb of Gurgeon, to a private hospital, where we have been assured we can get vaccinated.
We have our own personal assistant to escort us to the proper floor, where we fill out admittance forms and pay an 800 (that’s $16) rupee fee for consult.
The doctor is wonderful, but when we tell her why we’re there, she shakes her head. No vaccine. We need to go to the clinic.
But they don’t have any vaccine! We tell her. Oh, yes, there’s a shortage. Maybe RML Hospital will have some, she suggests.
We stop at the cashier and get our 800 rupees back.
So, RML Hospital it is. Another public hospital.
The yellow fever vaccination clinic is inexplicably located in the psychiatric building. No one stops us: We just walk in and wander around the grounds. The patients are enjoying the morning sunshine. Ahna is looking for the clinic, and starts walking into the men’s ward. In the psych building. I’ve never seen her do such a quick about-face. She almost created a wormhole.
After quizzing some nice security guards, it turns out we’re in the right place, but the clinic is closed. It’s a holiday. This is getting silly.
Mr. Singh has one more trick up his sleeve. He knows of a private clinic that manages travel health for the embassies.
He accompanies us to the offices, and we follow the nurse into the exam room. Ahna hops on the table and gets her shot.
My turn. The nurse looks at me questioningly.
I need one too, I tell her. She makes a call to the front desk, and after much furtive whispering, informs me that there are no more vaccines.
Ahna got the last yellow fever vaccination in all of India. We’re halfway there!